Saturday Dance and a Storm:on line short story


Andrea, a young Swedish immigrant living in Duluth, Minnesota in the last decade of the 18th Century, is looking forward to attending the Saturday night dance with Jay, a young man she met while ice skating..

“Dress warm,” Jay told Andrea. “It looks like a storm coming our way.”

The dance was always held at the community hall just a short walk from the hotel where Andrea and Karolina worked. It was Saturday night and Andrea had been looking forward to having Jay escort her to the dance. They had met while ice skating and she was thrilled that he invited her to go with him. Karolina was not as thrilled. Jay had introduced her to his brother John, who was nice enough and really handsome, but she had hoped to continue a friendship with the preacher Roald.

“I thought Roald would ask to see me again,” she told Andrea. “but he just walked away after we were skating.”

Andrea could not tell her the real reason Roald didn’t ask her. It was Andrea that scared Roald away. They came from the same village in Sweden and she knew he was a womanizer. . Karolina was a bit too innocent to get mixed up with him.

The wind was starting to get strong and the snow heavier when they got to the dance. Jay held the door for the others to get in. A gust of wind caught the door and threatened to blow it our of his grasp. He tightened his grip and got inside pulling it shut behind him. They all brushed the snow from their coats which they hung on the wooden pegs in a narrow closet by the door. The music had started and they were drawn into starting the dance with a traditional polka. It took the couples a short while to catch the rhythms of the musicians because the area they lived in was mostly Scandinavian, but had a mix of traditions. The music seemed a bit more Finnish than the Swedish that Andrea was used to. It didn’t take long to make it their own though.

Everyone in the hall was invited to join in a set dance which had everyone in double around the hall. As they passed the biggest window, Andrea stared at the window in fascination as lightening flashed outside. “We have a winter thunderstorm Jay told her. She said that she didn’t recall thunder and lightening in the winter. “It is not too common, but it happens,“ he told her. “Being by the big lake adds to some unusual conditions.”

The musicians played on and the dancers danced. An especially loud crack of thunder followed a flash of lightening. They were all startled when another loud crack followed after that. The lightening had hit a tree nearby outside the hall. The lightening weakened the tree and as snow gathered on its branches they could hear a cracking sound that was not lightening, They all held their breath anticipating what followed. The loud cracking sound was followed by the sound of the tree falling into the roof of the hall.. The roof, already heavy with snow, started to bend under the weight.. If the roof caved in one or more of the Franklin stoves used to heat the hall could tip over. With the wood structure a fire could be disastrous. John with the help of some other men found some boards and started to make braces to prop up the ceiling.. He knew that they could not stop a cave-in but it might slow it down.

Swedish folk dance

Swedish folk dance, modern times

“I think the roof will hold,” Jay said, “ but that big tree limb has blocked the door. We’re trapped here unless we can find another way out.”

Andrea looked in horror as one of the stoves near where the tree fell started to topple. She signaled her friend Karolina to follow her and the both grabbed the punch bowls and splashed the liquid on the burning wood when the stove fell and spilled its contents. Some other people started to get snow from the window sills to put around the stove. The building was built on a hill and they found that the window on that side of the building was close to the ground. Jay and John directed some other people to move some tables near the windows. The long dresses the girls wore hampered getting out the windows but with everyone helping each other they managed to get out of the building. The next obstacle was the snow and cold. Some guests were unable to get there coats and they were on the side of the building away from the street.

“Let’s go to the hotel. Our manager won’t turn away people who need shelter.” Karolina said. They all followed her around the building. They got to the street and started to follow the outline of the street that showed through the snow until they could see the hotel. They all turned and stared as they heard another crashing sound. As snow gathered on the roof and the tree, the weight caved in the roof. The falling roof and tree must have tipped over the stoves because flames spreading started around the windows.

They hurried to the hotel for shelter. They saw the fire wagon go by. It was too late, but they would try containing the fire. Some of the men who had salvaged their coats went to join them. Many of them were members of the volunteer fire brigade. Andrea noted that even Roald was there to help and went to help the volunteers to control the fire.

Andrea and Karolina led the rest into the dining room where there was a fireplace and a piano. They both were blessed with fine singing voices and knew many songs from their home in Sweden. They could not recapture the mood of the dance, but singing could help get everyone through the storm.

Finally the storm did end. People came in wagons and carriages with warm clothes and everyone went to their homes feeling grateful to be alive. It was a night they would remember with the winter thunderstorm, a fire but also fellowship that some maintained long after.

© 2012 Don A. Hoglund

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Comments 26 comments

Becky Katz profile image

Becky Katz 4 years ago from Hereford, AZ

This is an awesome story. Andrea is another of your good, strong characters. I think that Jay and John will be too.

dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 4 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids Author

Thanks Becky. Andrea has had to take care of herself.

Jason Marovich profile image

Jason Marovich 4 years ago from United States

I enjoy the period details you apply to this story and its characters. I'll be sure to check out more of your work.

dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 4 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids Author

Hi Jason, thanks for commenting. I hope you find my other hubs enjoyable.

Vern 4 years ago

Good continuing saga, Don. Anxious to hear more about Andrea,Roald et al.

dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 4 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids Author

Thanks Vern. I always wonder myself what my characters are up to next.

ThomasBaker profile image

ThomasBaker 4 years ago from Florida

This tale is darn entertaining. It moves along smoothly and is well written. I look forward to the next one.


pandula77 profile image

pandula77 4 years ago from Norway

Very enjoyable and such strong characters. Well done!

WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 4 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

Really good, Don. Grabs you and won't let you go. Up and awesome.

dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 4 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids Author

Hi Tom,Glad to have your feedback.I'm glad you found it entertaining and found the pace good.

dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 4 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids Author

Hi pandula, My characters must be strong because they seem to take the plot where they want it to go.Thanks for commenting.

dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 4 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids Author

Thanks Will.Your opinion means a lot.

CASE1WORKER profile image


We live in such a different era, here a falling stove could mean the loss of a community facility and even death. In our time we would moan about the insurance cost but that would probably be it

Wayne Brown profile image

Wayne Brown 4 years ago from Texas

Friendships form under some less than desirable conditions some times...guess the preacher should have been there! LOL! WB

dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 4 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids Author

You may be right case1 worker. We do have better organized fire fighting now.I appreciate the comment.

dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 4 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids Author

Hi Wayne, We will see if Roald ever finds himself.You are right about friendships.Thanks for commenting.

The Frog Prince profile image

The Frog Prince 4 years ago from Arlington, TX

Awesome piece of writing dahoglund. Hope things are going well for you.

The Frog

dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 4 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids Author

Thanks for reading Frog. Things would go better if we get a change in administration, I think. Take care.

KoffeeKlatch Gals profile image

KoffeeKlatch Gals 4 years ago from Sunny Florida

Amazing story. I enjoyed the characters. I look forward to reading more.

dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 4 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids Author

koffeklatch Gals, Thank you for dropping by and commenting.I am glad you enjoyed the story.

Teylina profile image

Teylina 4 years ago

Dahoglund, I enjoyed every word. Can only imagine these characters--all so very real.

dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 4 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids Author

Teylina, Thank you for commenting. I feel it is successful if it feels real to you and other readers.

Teylina profile image

Teylina 4 years ago

Then successful it is!

dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 4 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids Author

Thank you. I appreciate it.

ajwrites57 profile image

ajwrites57 3 years ago from Pennsylvania

dahoglund, the simplicity of the life those people lived is interesting to think about. We have many coats and articles of clothing and they made do with just a few. Also, the importance of community and working together is contrasted with the individuality and indepenence--not even knowing a next door neighbor's name today. Nice story. Shared!

dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 3 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids Author

aj, there were a lot less things and not much manufactured entertainment. A dance was probably a bigger event than now, although there seem to be some folks who still make it a major part of there lives. Thanks for your comments and the share.

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